Gun Control in Canada

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Gun control in Canada has a long and controversial history with supporters on different sides of the issue. There are those organizations who want the strictest gun control possible versus those pro-gun organizations that are staunchly opposed to tougher laws. The history of firearms control in Canada is rather widespread, dating back to early Confederation. The Constitution Act of 1867 divided legislative powers between the federal government and the provinces. The provinces were assigned property and civil rights powers under Section 92(27). The federal government was assigned powers relating to criminal law as well as a general power to legislate under peace, order and good government. In 1892, Canada's first Criminal Code required individuals to have a basic permit to carry a pistol unless the owner had cause to fear assault or injury. This first Criminal Code also created an offence to sell a pistol to anyone under 16 years of age while requiring vendors who sold pistols or air guns to keep a record of the purchaser's name, the date of the sale, and information that could identify the gun. Following the 1993 federal election, the Federal Government indicated its intention to proceed with additional measures, including a universal licensing system that would apply to all owners and a universal registration system that would apply to all firearms. Discussions over policy options culminated with the drafting of Bill C-68 (An Act Respecting Firearms and Other Weapons), which was tabled in the House of Commons on February 14, 1995, and received Royal Assent in December 1995. Bill C-68 brought about several changes in firearms controls. Criminal Code amendments providing harsher penalties for certain serious crimes where firearms are used (for example: kidnapping, murder, etc.). The Act also requires businesses to possess a license if they are to engage in activities related to firearms, other weapons, devices, and/or ammunition. In addition, every firearm must be registered. The Act and the related regulations also control the movement of firearms and other regulated items. For instance, the Firearms Act states that an appropriate authorization is required whenever individuals move restricted or prohibited firearms from one authorized location to another. The Act creates new offences to enforce the licensing, authorization and registration requirements, and the duty that people have to assist inspectors. The federal Firearms Act, enacted in 1995, required licensing and regulation for all guns and made it a criminal offence. Like many federal/provincial disputes the firearm act ended up in the court. In June 1997, the government of Alberta filed documents containing its argument against the Firearm Act through a reference to the Alberta Court of Appeal .the proceedings attracted significant amount of media attention. The Alberta government challenged the Act on the basis that it was regulatory, not prohibitory; it made a reference to the Alberta Court of Appeal. Alberta lost its case in 1998 at the province's court of appeal in a 3-2 decision. The Alberta government appealed to the Supreme Court Alberta argued that regulating guns, which are private property, is an area of the law that should be within the purview of provinces, not the federal government. Its position was supported by Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, the Northwest Territories and the gun lobby. The federal government says the Firearms Act was passed in the name of public safety and that it falls within its powers to legislate in the area of criminal law. Statutes and Regulations Cited in this case includes, Canadian Environmental Protection Act, R.S.C., 1985, c. 16 (4th Supp.),Constitution Act, 1867, ss. 91(27), 92(13), Criminal Code, R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46, ss. 2 “firearm” [ad. 1995, c. 39, s. 138], 84, 85 [repl. idem, s. 139], 86 [idem], 87 [idem], 91 [idem], Firearms Act, S.C. 1995,...
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